- Albion lose 1-0 to Southampton
- Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s strike proves the difference
- Seagulls sit five points clear of the drop zone
- Albion travel to Chelsea on Wednesday
Brighton & Hove Albion were unable to add further distance between themselves and the bottom three, after a 1-0 defeat to Southampton at the Amex.
Despite a late push in search of an equaliser, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s goal early in the second half brought the Saints level on points with Albion, who have a game in hand.
Chris Hughton named an unchanged side from the last Premier League outing against Crystal Palace, but the lively start at Selhurst Park three weeks earlier was not replicated in the opening stages in Falmer.
Hojbjerg almost had the first opening in the 15th minute, before Nathan Redmond’s shot stung Maty Ryan’s palms after some neat footwork on the edge of the box.
Albion were getting a lot of joy down the right-hand side early on, as Yves Bissouma proved to be a powerful nuisance in midfield, while Martin Montoya linked up play well from full-back. The Spaniard bombed forward in the 23rd minute after some neat interchange on the wing and charged goalwards, but his menacing cross was cleared by the Saints defence.
After Bissouma tore through the centre of the pitch and fired wide from 20 yards, the visitors broke quickly in the 34th minute, and Danny Ings received the ball in space just inside the penalty area. The striker opened his body to bury it past Ryan’s left, but was intercepted by Bernardo.
The Brazilian came to the rescue again five minutes later, as Dale Stephens lost possession in midfield and James Ward-Prowse advanced with pace.
The England international squeezed a pass to Stuart Armstrong, who daringly waited to hit it on the half-volley, but that slight hesitance gave Bernardo time to once again throw his body in front of the ball, in what was the final half-chance of a muted first half.
In contrast, the second period did not take long to come alive. After some neat interchange on the left wing, Redmond approached the Albion penalty area with pace and slipped a ball to Hojbjerg. The Dane was under pressure, but managed to poke past the on-rushing Ryan in front of the away supporters.
Albion responded with intent, piling up field for Anthony Knockaert’s free-kick which found Lewis Dunk, who headed over. Knockaert then tried his luck with a long-range effort, but saw it narrowly sail wide of the far-left post.
Southampton would have doubled their lead in the 61st minute if it wasn’t for Dunk’s awareness. Chasing an equaliser, Hughton’s men left themselves exposed and Ryan Bertrand latched onto a loose ball, 18 yards out.
The left-back screwed an effort destined for the bottom right corner, leaving Ryan stranded, but Dunk slid in just before the line to prevent a second.
Determined to take something from the game, Albion stepped up the tempo in the final 20 minutes. Following some concerted pressure through consecutive corners, Montoya received the ball on the right and cut inside, before unleashing a swerving left-footed shot which crashed against the crossbar.
Albion then had a strong penalty shout waved away soon after when Davy Propper was seemingly tugged down as he tried to pounce on Angus Gunn’s failed collection from a cross. Referee Michael Oliver waved away Albion’s appeals.
Both Solly March and Jurgen Locadia were introduced late on to try to salvage a draw but Ralph Hasenhuttl’s men secured all three points.
ALBION: Ryan; Montoya, Dunk, Duffy, Bernardo; Propper (Locadia 74), Stephens, Bissouma; Jahanbakhsh (March 62), Murray, Knockaert.
SUBS NOT USED: Button, Bong, Burn, Kayal, Izquierdo.
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